LIMA — As the manufacturing, healthcare and skilled trades industries struggle to fill available jobs in the Lima area, colleges and the MakerFest job fairs are doing what they can to recruit local and outside talent, according to Doug Arthur, Program Director of Link Lima/Allen County.
“The current state of workforce challenges for business has flipped from a supply to demand-based problem,” said Arthur. “It is now a critical problem exacerbated by a three-point-something unemployment rate. So efforts we make to attract talent to the in-demand jobs are critical efforts, as well.”
There are close to 1,600 jobs available in the Lima area, according to Joe Patton, Director of the Allen County Department of Job and Family Services.
One of the solutions to filling those available jobs is through the MakerFest job fair, according to Arthur.
MakerFest, a Link Lima workforce initiative of Greater Lima Region Inc., is a three-day event for local talent to connect with employers in the manufacturing, healthcare, service industries and skilled trades fields. Last year, there were 360 sponsors representing more than 100 companies with 1,414 high school students from 30 regional high schools and career tech schools.
“Job fairs are inside engines,” said Arthur. “We have the opportunity to provide job seekers and the workforce talent in the high schools with access to over 100 employers, which we know is hugely efficient for the job seeker.”
Similar to MakerFest, The Ohio State University at Lima Career Services and Rhodes State College Career Development’s Fall Job and Internship Fair will also have representatives from manufacturing, healthcare, business, information technology, biology, zoology, education, law enforcement and food service industries.
During last year’s fall fair, there were over 120 OSU-Lima student attendees with over 100 Lima-area employers represented. The 2018 Fall Job & Internship Fair is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 20 at OSU-Lima’s Cook Hall.
“A benefit, which is sometimes a hidden benefit of a job fair, is the ability for our students to explore careers that help them make an informed decision on which major to choose or what field or area of work to go into,” said Rachel Richardson, OSU-Lima Career Development Manager. “On the surface, people attend job fairs to receive a job, but some of the students go to the job fair to learn how their major fits into a certain industry.”
Marketing tool for employers
Job fairs also serve as a marketing tool for employers to promote their business and available positions, according to Richardson.
Frost Roofing, a Wapakoneta roofing contractor company, was one of many employers represented at the 2017 MakerFest job fair that was successful in hiring new employees for their team.
“People come to those fairs looking for a job, and I’m finding that even in-house you have to do it now because people do not want to wait,” said Frost Roofing Human Resources Representative Marty Borchers. “The fair has absolutely helped with hiring on more people because you have those people right there to choose from.”
K&M Tires Vice President of HR and Talent Pam Rosswurm also found the fair to be successful as the tire company was able to speed up the normal hiring process.
“Once you have posted a job ad and start receiving your job applicants over the weekend, it’s about three or four weeks before you get someone hired on the job,” said Rosswurm. “The job fair has definitely sped up the process, and we will be there this year in hopes of having the same amount of success.”
Evolution of job fairs
Since the first MakerFest job fair four years ago, Arthur and his team each year have continued to develop new ways to better attract job seekers, especially the youth.
“It takes too much effort to put together MakerFest for us not to really nail the job fair,” said Arthur. “It’s a chance in October to put our workforce talent and graduates in front of 100 great employers. Job fairs are a great thing for Apollo, and other career centers in the region, who all live and die by the ability to connect their kids to employers and the job fair is the way you do that.”
To better attract job seekers, MakerFest offers free breakfast, gift certificates giveaways and raffle drawings.
Job seekers can also take advantage of the Ohio Means Jobs-Allen County mobile job center, a station where they can apply for the jobs available at the job fair.
“Many of the employers have online applications, but job fairs aren’t really conducive of online applications,” said Patton. “So through the job center, we are able to help navigate job seekers through the links to applications so that they can put their best foot forward.”
This year’s Lima Campus Fall Job and Internship Fair will have a new station where college students and community members can get free professional head shots taken. Also, the OSU-Lima business club has offered and will continue to offer a prep sessions at the fair where they help registered participants answer questions and navigate them through fair.
“With over 100 companies at the fair, it can get overwhelming for students and other attendees who are unsure about which tables to visit and who to talk to,” said Richardson.
Through both fairs, Arthur, Richardson and Patton are determined to provide Lima-area employers will more talent to fill those available jobs.
“Allen County is a employment-rich environment right now, and the job forecast is looking good and it’s a great place to come back and work,” said Patton.
Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews.